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Comment Re:why review? (Score 4, Informative) 125

This isn't a situation where they're randomly suing reviewers. Amazon is suing people who (a) posted an offer to submit a fake Amazon review in exchange for payment, (b) received payment, and (c) posted a fake review.

Published reviews should be restricted to people who have actually purchased the product from Amazon, especially with items that cost a significant amount. That would dramatically cut down fraud. As it is, Amazon reviews tend to be most effective when there are a few hundred or thousands for a product and the product is in the $50+ range. In those cases, it can be highly educational to read through the reviews because people often highlight product flaws and provide advice and workarounds for common problems.

Comment ASUS tends to abandon hardware quickly (Score 4, Insightful) 87

I have an ASUS Memo Pad 10 FHD, that has served me pretty well for just over a year. My one complaint is that the company stopped supporting it way too early (it's running Android 4.3), and this seems to be standard practice. My next tablet will be Nexus or Apple, simply because that should provide me with 2-3 years of OS updates. That little bonus is worth an extra $100 or so to me.

Comment Re:First things first. (Score 4, Interesting) 842

Next thing I do (after buying a house, of course) is start studying accountancy, because if I've learned anything from reading the news the past several years, it's that NOBODY can be trusted with that many zeroes.

After that, I've got friends who need help, and who deserve it much more than I do. I want to see them happy. Then I can start worrying about businesses and philanthropy and shit like that.

You're overthinking this. Read The Four Pillars of Investing by William Bernstein. Invest your money sensibly. Make sure that all your eggs aren't in one basket - invest with a number of different firms and with a broad portfolio. Pay attention to annual performance and ask questions.

Then look after your friends, although you'll discover that everyone looks at you in a different way.

Even when you're wearing your old comfy jeans, they'll look at your feet and see the $800 shoes that you bought because they're the most freakishly comfortable things you've ever put on your feet. Your Aston Martin key fob will start unwanted conversations with TSA screeners every time you pass through security (they all seem to think that a Ferrari 458 would be a much more sensible choice than a 4-door sedan).

Meeting people gets a bit awkward. They'll ask where you live and you'll tell them, "Just out of town, near the river," hoping that they won't ask the next question, which is, "Oh! How many acres? Three? Four?" You'll lower your voice as you start apologetically - "A hundred and sixty. But we have horses..." It's not the sort of attention an introvert enjoys.

Comment Re:Look outside, not inside (Score 4, Insightful) 195

Show me a pilot that has to rely on their instruments and I'll show a pilot who can't fly.

You're not a pilot, obviously. Every airline pilot has an instrument rating to ensure they can fly safely without external reference to the ground and horizon (when flying through cloud, a snowstorm, fog, or even at night over a sparsely populated area between cloud layers. You (usually) need an instrument rating to land through cloud and when conditions are below visual limits.

It is almost impossible to stay oriented in thick cloud without using instruments, because one of the side-effects of turning in an aircraft is that in a properly coordinated turn, the occupants of the aircraft will feel that they are being pushed "down" toward the floor of the aircraft. That's convenient and feels more comfortable than sliding out of your seat. However, it means that it's quite possible to enter an extremely steep turn that fools the body into thinking that everything is OK. Bad things can easily happen unless you learn to ignore what your body is telling you and instead rely on what your artificial horizon is telling you.

Comment You don't want it to seem too appealing. (Score 1, Insightful) 312

No, the government has to keep up pretenses - Make it challenging to slip of to join ISIS so that only the hardcore religious fanatics actually make it to Syria. The last thing you want is millions of people signing up as cannon fodder, because that might actually enable ISIS to destabilize the region more than it already is.

As a side note, extreme religious fanaticism has all the hallmarks of a mental illness -- delusional thinking, belief in the supernatural, a willingness to do horrific things to please an invisible master. It should be treated as such.

Comment Sometimes "experts" are clueless (Score 1) 479

I agree that phone support calls can be infuriating, but sometimes experienced tech guys go off on wild tangents and refuse to step through basic troubleshooting. A case in point: I had a customer recently who contacted me frustrated because some equipment was "broken." When I sent him a short and simple list of tasks to do, his response was, "did that yesterday, didn't work." In the next email, I asked him to check one parameter. He went off on me about "irrelevant mindless support scripts that just waste time" and refused to check, then demanded an RMA. In a subsequent email, he commented that he did actually get around to checking that parameter and "it wasn't activated" -- essentially confirming that he hadn't actually run the initial process, which would have set the "irrelevant" parameter on our hardware.

The RMA'd hardware was fine, although I had to endure several insulting emails from this imbecile claiming that "reputable" companies would have paid for return shipping costs for defective hardware.

The only solution to this problem would be to stand behind the customer while he diligently and correctly worked through a 90 second checklist to confirm that he was an idiot.

Comment Bell runs a competing streaming service... (Score 4, Informative) 408

What the article neglects to mention is that Bell recently started a competing streaming service called CraveTV. They have licensed some shows that are available on the US Netflix, so the only way for Canadians to watch them is to subscribe to CraveTV or use a VPN to access the American version of Netflix.

Where things get really stupid is that Bell's $4 CraveTV service requires potential customers to subscribe to a Bell (or partner) cable or satellite TV plan in an effort to protect their traditional business. Have an OTA antenna on your roof instead? Tough. You don't qualify for their service.

Comment Re:Tolls? (Score 1) 837

All taxes are regressive. This is just another example of regressive tax ideas from the left, trying to even out the playing field.

Um. What? Left wing politicians tend to find regressive taxation *less* desirable because it results in low to middle income earners paying disproportionately more of their earnings.

Comment Re:And Cuba will be fucked ... (Score 3, Insightful) 84

Your perspective is completely wrong. Cuba isn't Disneyland, it's a country with a population of over 11 million people. Tourism is currently a significant source of income for many on the island, and even professionals with university educations are drawn to the resorts out of necessity - I know an air traffic controller who works full-time in Varadero and conducts private tours on the side to earn much needed money. He's one of the lucky ones.

Cuba needs industry and business. The country introduced reforms a few years ago to encourage small private enterprises, but access to capital and markets has kept people from being able to take advantage of those changes. As it stands, there is foreign oil investment from companies like China's Greatwall and Canada's Sherritt, but the nation's basic infrastructure is in crisis; a lot of the infrastructure was obviously built under the guidance of Soviet engineers -- concrete apartment buildings dot the outskirts of Havana that are familiar to anyone who has visited Vilnius or St Petersburg. The electrical poles are a classic Soviet concrete design, as are the 1970s and 1980s era bus shelters. Even shop doors cause me to do a double take, because they're right out of my 1990 memories from the Baltic states.

But anyway, I digress. What Cubans need is access to capital and encouragement to start small diversified businesses that extend the economy beyond rum, cigars and tacky booze holiday tourism. They also need access to the US market in a manner that isn't exploitative (American companies that see the island as a cheap labour source for large manufacturing facilities would not be beneficial, because the wealth would flow out of the country, as an example).

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